Nikolai Makarov worked as an autodidact artist in Russia until 1975 when he moved to East Berlin. There, he studied history at the Humboldt University followed by several years studying at East Germany’s Academy of Arts, where he was a student of the master class of Werner Klemke (Berlin) and Rudolf Hausner (Vienna). In 1988, Makarov was admitted as a Member of Artists House, the Austrian Society of Fine Arts.
Currently based in Berlin, Makarov concentrates entirely on his work. While he initially preferred oil paints over acrylics, he decided to base his works on the latter following encouragement from the Austrian painter Rudolf Hauser. Diluted with water, these enabled him to build up layers of subtle washes that converge into a smooth surface of paint, making his paintings moving and unmistakable.
As Makarov had already garnered attention for works he made while still a student, later exhibitions at museums and galleries made his original body of work internationally known. He is currently the director of the art association StilLeben e.V. in Berlin and the President of the Sergej Mawrizki Foundation as of 2000. 
Nikolai Makarov's works are in museums and public collections, including Arnot Art Museum; Russian Consulate; Sloane Kettering Memorial Hospital in New York, USA; St. Regis Hotel and Museum in San Francisco, USA; Kolodzei Foundation in Russia; Busch-Reisinger at Harvard University in Massachusetts, USA; Museum of Fine Arts in Leipzig, Germany, among many others. Makarov was invited to over fifty solo exhibitions, including "Be Still" at Waterfall Gallery in New York, "History of National Football" at Triumph Gallery in Moscow, "Kunsthalle Am Arlberg" at St. Anton, Austria, at CWC Gallery in Berlin, and 24beaubourg & Mario in Bermel to list a few among many.
Nikolai Makarov is also the founder of the Museum of Silence, located at the edge of the bustling heart of Berlin. He believes that “the time has come for reinstating one of art’s oldest tasks: inviting viewers to engage in contemplation and placing them in contact with the spiritual part of themselves.” There, he places his own works in relation to interior architectures designed by important architects. The goal of presenting his works as realms of silence provides the theme and makes it seem as if time really does come to a stop.